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May 2017


What’s the best way to make a decision? Is it best to focus on all pertinent and relevant information and then analyze/discern your way to decision-making excellence? Many of my clients are continuously faced with weighty decisions of meaningful organizational impact. Was doing some early morning reading this morning and one thought led to another and voila, a leadership truth hit me between the eyes on the topic of decision making.

Decisions are justified by their offspring.

We all know from experience that decisions spawn implications and further outcomes. In some cases the ancestor(s) of decisions-past are likely still with us today if we take a look around. This is likely some of the reason why we pause at the threshold of bigger decisions and deliberate before moving forward. It certainly seems like the reasonable and rational thing to do.

If decisions are justified by their offspring, then one way to evaluate past decisions is to look at today’s family tree of outcomes. Taking a look at the offspring of past decisions to evaluate “how they’re doing” makes for compelling discussion. Just as in the raising of our own kids, it’s a long race and sometimes the fruit of our decision making isn’t readily or as easily recognizable at the present moment.

And this brings us to a related thought. Sometimes, pre-decision analysis can be a bit over rated. Please don’t get me wrong here. Reckless, ill-conceived decision making possesses no virtue in today’s dynamic world of enterprise leadership. Much can be said for “get-it-right-the-first-time” mindfulness. But Peter Drucker used to point out that “seeing around corners” is quite the task. And even if you are skillful at getting to see around corners, at least a little bit, doesn’t that pretty much just get you to 50% (or 55% if really good predictive data is available) in the decision making process?

So thorough, heads-up pre-decision analysis is the first half of the decision making process. Let’s call it “Bucket A”. But then comes time for “Bucket B”. Bucket B is simply the committed leadership it takes to ensure that the decision was one of the very best decisions you’ve ever made.

Most parents would never dream of merely giving birth and then expecting their offspring to flourish unto themselves. “B Bucket leadership” is the simple and secret weapon I have seen work in the lives of the successful executives with whom I’ve partnered over the years. They make excellent decisions excellent. I had a conversation with a very talented executive who recently made a grand decision that will profoundly impact her organization and her personal life for years to come. As I thought about our conversation I realize that she and her organization will thrive because of her “B Bucket leadership”. She’ll see to it that the offspring of her decision will thrive. She clearly will not allow her decision to do nothing but succeed.


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